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Observing the Future of Storytelling at the New Frontier Story Lab

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Kamal Sinclair, Senior Manager, New Frontier

As Sundance Institute invests in the advancement of story by supporting artists in the New Frontier program, we realized we should also create space for “the observer,” a critical role in innovation. The observer helps to contextualize new things, create language, identify what’s not working, and amplify what resonates.

We invited filmmaker Samah Tokmachi to come to the 2013 New Frontier Story Lab in the role of Creative Observer. We loved the playfulness of his aesthetic, as seen in his Zen Den piece for SoulPancake, and his inquisitive nature, as demonstrated in his short film Living in a Global Society. So, we charged him with creating a video essay about his experience of the New Frontier Story Lab, in hopes that his reflections would enrich the wider discourse about media innovation and the future of storytelling.

Although the Lab included robust conversations about new story media and tools, Samah’s impressive and beautiful video essay affirms the fundamental realities of story that every innovator should embrace.

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Sundance Institute Piloting Direct Individual Support for Mediamakers Through the Sundance Institute | Humanities Sustainability Fellowship

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in general, and halted production and distribution for many creatives, the nonfiction field was plagued by issues of sustainability. For several years, sustainability has been an urgent and vigorous topic of study, debate, and organizing, as more and more filmmakers find it difficult, if not impossible, to make a living solely on the basis of their creative work. 

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